2018 NFL Offseason: Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles (Last Year: 13-3)

2018 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
WR Mike Wallace, WR Markus Wheaton, TE Richard Rodgers, DE Michael Bennett, NT Haloti Ngata, OLB Paul Worrilow, LB Corey Nelson.
Early Draft Picks:
TE Dallas Goedert, CB Avonte Maddox, DE Josh Sweat. Eagles Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
RB LeGarrette Blount, RB Kenjon Barner, WR Torrey Smith, TE Trey Burton, TE Brent Celek, DE Vinny Curry, NT Beau Allen, OLB Mychal Kendricks, CB Patrick Robinson, CB Corey Graham, K Caleb Sturgis, P Donnie Jones.

2018 Philadelphia Eagles Offense:
The Eagles ran with the underdog narrative throughout their playoff run, but they were the favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl until mid-December. That’s when Carson Wentz tore his ACL. Nick Foles had some dreadful performances in relief, particularly against the Raiders on Christmas night, which is why the Eagles were underdogs in every single playoff game. Yet, Foles came up big when it mattered most, improving exponentially in every postseason contest. The Eagles were able to win Super Bowl LII as a result.

Wentz’s outlook for the 2018 opener is still unknown. He threw during individual drills at OTAs, but he still may not be ready for the season opener. That’s why the Eagles didn’t trade Foles during the draft despite being offered the 35th-overall pick for him from the Browns. It’s unreasonable to expect Foles to perform like he did in the Super Bowl and NFC Championship, but he won’t play poorly either. If Wentz misses half the year, Foles will be capable of leading the Eagles to a 5-3 record at the very least, which has to be considered a win.

Foles, of course, will have a tremendous supporting cast, which includes a prolific line. The blocking unit didn’t even have stellar left tackle Jason Peters for most of 2017, as Peters tore his ACL and MCL in October. Peters is now 36, so it’s unknown if he’ll ever be himself again, but he’ll definitely be an upgrade over what the Eagles had after he went down last year. Peters will once again bookend Lane Johnson, who is arguably the top right tackle in the NFL.

The interior of the offensive line has remained intact. Center Jason Kelce is known for his crazed parade speech, but he was one of the top centers in the NFL last year. Right guard Brandon Brooks is also a Pro Bowl-caliber player, while left guard Stefen Wisniewski should continue to be solid.

The Eagles didn’t lose any linemen, but three skill players from last year are gone. However, all three can be replaced. Two are downfield weapons in Torrey Smith and Trey Burton. Smith was actually upgraded when Philadelphia signed Mike Wallace in free agency. Wallace is no longer the big-time play-maker he used to be in Pittsburgh, but he’s an effective deep-speed receiver who won’t drop as many passes as Smith. He’ll join Alshon Jeffery and late-bloomer Nelson Agholor in a talented receiving corps. Burton, meanwhile, will be replaced by second-round rookie Dallas Goedert as Philadelphia’s second tight end. Goedert will be a nice option for Wentz or Foles if Pro Bowler Zach Ertz gets hurt again.

LeGarrette Blount is the third player the Eagles lost, but that’s not a big deal because Jay Ajayi will shoulder more of the workload. The Eagles also have some nice depth in the underrated Corey Clement, as well as Darren Sproles, who played in just three games last year because of a torn ACL.

2018 Philadelphia Eagles Defense:
The Eagles will have some new changes on this side of the ball that will be exciting, but they also lost a few key players, so it remains to be seen if the stop unit will improve or regress from a year ago.

There were three big departures, one on each level of the defense: Mychael Kendricks, Vinny Curry and Patrick Robinson. Kendricks is a big loss, as he was stellar last season. However, to offset Kendricks’ release, the Eagles are getting Jordan Hicks back from injury. This would be a thrilling development for Philadelphia, considering Hicks’ talent level, but he has missed 17 of 48 possible games in his career, and he’s coming off a torn Achilles, so he may not be 100 percent in 2018. At the very least, Nigel Bradham will return. Bradham was excellent last season, and he’ll start alongside Hicks and possibly Corey Nelson in the wake of Paul Worrilow’s season-ending injury.

The transition away from Curry is the easiest one the Eagles will make. That’s because they signed Michael Bennett, a perennial Pro Bowler. However, there’s some question about whether or not Bennett will be able to play because he allegedly pushed an elderly woman in a wheelchair a couple of years ago and may now be in trouble for it. If he’s allowed to suit up, he’ll rotate with Brandon Graham, one of the better defensive ends in the NFL, as well as solid reserve Chris Long and 2017 first-rounder Derek Barnett, who logged five sacks in limited playing time as a rookie.

Bennett will be able to shift inside on passing downs, playing next to All-Pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. On early downs, run-stuffers Timmy Jernigan and the newly acquired Haloti Ngata will make sure that opponents won’t be able to establish their ground attacks. Ngata was signed as insurance for Jernigan, who went through back surgery this offseason and may not be ready for Week 1.

The loss of Robinson, meanwhile, will be felt the most because of the amazing work he did in the slot. He locked that position down, and the Eagles don’t have a replacement of his caliber on the roster. Perhaps 2017 second-rounder Sidney Jones will be used there. Jones missed most of his rookie campaign with an injury, but the talented corner will be ready to go this upcoming season. Meanwhile, Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills should continue to start on the outside, which is a positive because both played very well last year. Darby, the best corner on the roster, didn’t really see action until Week 10 because of an injury, so it’ll be nice to have him on the field for all 16 games.

The Eagles have an excellent pair of safeties to go with their talented cornerbacks. Rodney McLeod and especially Malcolm Jenkins performed on a high level this past season. Jenkins just turned 30, but there’s no reason to think he’ll regress just yet.

2018 Philadelphia Eagles Schedule and Intangibles:
Philadelphia had an awful homefield advantage entering 2016. The team hadn’t put together a winning record at the Linc in five of the previous six seasons, owning a 22-28 record in that span. However, things changed with Carson Wentz, as the Eagles were 13-3 as hosts the past two years.

The Eagles had mixed special teams last year, outgaining opponents on punt returns, but getting beaten in kickoffs.

Jake Elliott made a name for himself when he drilled a 61-yard, game-winning kick against the Giants in Week 3. He finished 26-of-31, including 5-of-6 from 50-plus.

Punter Donnie Jones has retired. He’ll be replaced by Cam Johnston, who was the 2016 Big Ten Punter of the Year.

The Eagles may have to weather the storm without Wentz early in the season. Fortunately for them, they have just one tough opponent in the first four weeks of the season (Falcons) before they battle the Vikings in Week 5. Both games are at home. The Eagles have some tough stretches later in the year, however, including the final four games when they go: at Cowboys, at Rams, vs. Texans, at Redskins.

2018 Philadelphia Eagles Rookies:
Go here for the Eagles Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.

2018 Philadelphia Eagles Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2018 Philadelphia Eagles Analysis: No one gave the Eagles a chance to win the Super Bowl after Carson Wentz suffered a season-ending injury last year, yet Nick Foles was able to lead Philadelphia to its first-ever Super Bowl victory. The Eagles have a great chance to repeat, as the linebacking corps is the only unit on the team that will be substantially worse in 2018. In fact, several other units will improve, given the rash of injuries Philadelphia endured last season. It seems like the only thing the Eagles will have to battle is complacency, which is something that has been the downfall of most of the Super Bowl winners since the 2004 New England Patriots.

Projection: 13-3 (1st in NFC East)

2017 Projection: 12-4. 2017 Actual Result: 13-3.
2016 Projection: 5-11. 2016 Actual Result: 7-9.

NFL Draft Team Grade: B+ Grade

Goals Entering the 2018 NFL Draft: The Eagles must trade down because they don’t pick after the first round until No. 130 overall. Then again, they barely have any significant needs, so they can focus on selecting the best player available every step of the way.

2018 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Philadelphia decided that trading down was the way to go, especially after its preferred target, Sony Michel, was snatched off the board one spot earlier. This was a wise move, as picking up extra picks was essential. The Eagles acquired two second-round choices, one of which will be in the loaded 2019 NFL Draft class.

With some extra ammo the Eagles moved ahead of the Cowboys to take athletic tight end Dallas Goedert at No. 49 overall. Philadelphia obtained a talented player to fill a need, all while stealing a player its biggest rival coveted. This was yet another example of why Howie Roseman is arguably the best general manager in the NFL.

The Eagles made some quality choices on Day 3. They began with cornerback Avonte Maddox, who was a slight bargain at No. 125 overall. Maddox will be able to cover the slot, and the Eagles needed someone like that in the wake of Patrick Robinson’s departure. Five selections later, Philadelphia landed an absolute steal in defensive end Josh Sweat. The Florida State product would’ve been a first-round pick if it wasn’t for injury concerns. He would’ve been a risk as a Friday pick, but getting him near the bottom of Round 4 provided incredible value.

It’s no surprise that the Eagles did very well. They didn’t have much to work with entering the draft, but they landed some talented players who will help in an effort to repeat as Super Bowl champions. The extra second-rounder acquired for 2019 is the cherry on top.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

49. Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State A Grade
Howie Roseman is kicking everyone’s a**. After ruining the Giants’ plans by giving Lamar Jackson to the Ravens, he moved ahead of the Cowboys, who were desperate for a tight end in the wake of Jason Witten’s retirement, for the final second-round tight end. Actually, Dallas Goedert could have arguably been a first-round selection, so I love this selection. Goedert will replace the departed Trey Burton and Brent Celek as the second tight end in Philadelphia’s two-tight end offense.

125. Avonte Maddox, CB, Pittsburgh B+ Grade
Avonte Maddox makes sense as a fourth-round pick, and he should be a logical fit for the Eagles, who needed someone to cover the slot in the wake of Patrick Robinson’s departure. Maddox is a short corner, but he’s very athletic and has high upside.

130. Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State A+ Grade
There was a slight pause while we were waiting for this pick, so I thought about what it could be. I said aloud, to no one, if it’s Josh Sweat or Maurice Hurst, I’d give them an instant A+. I’m a man of my word. Sweat is a dynamic player who could have gone in the first round had he not dealt with injury issues. Maybe he never plays well because of his problems, but his upside is stellar, and he could become a terrific pass-rusher in the pros.

206. Matt Pryor, OT, TCU B Grade
It makes sense that the Eagles would use a late-round pick on tackle depth, given that Jason Peters’ career will end soon. I would have gone in a different direction, however, as Pryor has some major motivational issues. Unless he turns his attitude around, he won’t make it in the pros.

233. Jordan Mailata, OT, Australia A- Grade
Speaking of swinging for the fences, that’s exactly what the Eagles are doing with this pick. Jordan Mailata is a former rugby player; he’s a 345-pound guy who moves around pretty well. He impressed at a pro day in Florida, so the Eagles opted to draft him. Mailata obviously needs to learn football, so perhaps he’ll be ready to compete for a starting job once Jason Peters retires.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Season Summary:
The Eagles were the Super Bowl favorites until Carson Wentz got hurt. They turned into underdogs, yet were still able to win it all.

Offseason Moves:
  • Eagles cut OLB Mychal Kendricks
  • Eagles cut CB Daryl Worley
  • Eagles sign TE Richard Rodgers
  • Eagles sign OLB Paul Worrilow
  • Eagles sign WR Mike Wallace
  • Eagles cut DE Vinny Curry
  • Eagles sign LB Corey Nelson
  • Eagles cut TE Brent Celek
  • Eagles sign NT Haloti Ngata
  • Panthers acquire WR Torrey Smith from Eagles for CB Daryl Worley
  • Eagles acquire DE Michael Bennett from Seahawks
  • Eagles announce retirement of P Donnie Jones

    Team Needs:
    1. Outside Linebacker: Nigel Bradham is an impending free agent who will need to be replaced if he leaves. Re-signed Nigel Bradham; signed Corey Nelson

    2. Left Tackle: Jason Peters is a 36-year-old coming off an ACL tear. It’s unclear if he’ll ever be the same player, but even if he is, the Eagles will need an eventual replacement for him.

    3. Cornerback Depth: Patrick Robinson was outstanding this past season, but his contract is set to expire. Sidney Jones is set to replace him, but depth will need to be added. Traded for Daryl Worley

    4. Wide Receiver Depth: Another receiver should be acquired to replace the disappointing Torrey Smith. Signed Mike Wallace

    5. Safety Depth: Help will be needed behind Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod if Corey Graham departs via free agency.

    6. Backup Quarterback: Nick Foles is likely to leave via trade, so a new backup quarterback could be acquired.

    7. Punter: Donnie Jones announced his retirement, so the Eagles will need a new punter.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2018 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Haloti Ngata, DT, Lions. Age: 34.
      Signed with Eagles (1 year)

      Haloti Ngata’s pass-rushing talent has eroded, but he’s still a dominant run-stuffer. Detroit’s ground defense worsened greatly when Ngata suffered a season-ending biceps tear.

    2. Mike Wallace, WR, Ravens. Age: 27.
      Signed with Eagles (1 year)

      Mike Wallace has been incredibly inconsistent throughout his career. Sometimes, he’s a dynamic deep threat. Other times, he’s a mistake-prone receiver who kills his team with drops.

    3. Paul Worrilow, OLB, Lions. Age: 28. — Signed with Eagles
    4. Corey Nelson, ILB, Broncos. Age: 26. — Signed with Eagles
    5. Richard Rodgers, TE, Packers. Age: 26. — Signed with Eagles
    6. Markus Wheaton, WR, Bears. Age: 30. — Signed with Eagles

    Philadelphia Eagles Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Nigel Bradham, OLB, Eagles. Age: 28.
      Re-signed with Eagles (5 years)

      Nigel Bradham is a stellar three-down linebacker in the NFL who excels in coverage. He turns 29 in September, so he should be able to perform on a high level for the next three years or so.

    2. Mychal Kendricks, OLB, Eagles. Age: 27.
      Signed with Browns

      Talent is certainly not the reason why Mychal Kendricks was released, as he had a terrific 2017 campaign. Kendricks was owed close to $6 million in 2018, so the Eagles needed to trade him to create cap space. They couldn’t find a partner, so Kendricks was cut. Kendricks can play in both the 4-3 and 3-4, though he’s better in the former, and as a skilled linebacker in all facets, he should find a home quickly.

    3. Patrick Robinson, CB, Eagles. Age: 30.
      Signed with Saints (4 years)

      Patrick Robinson has undergone an up-and-down career ever since being the 32nd-overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. This past season was the ultimate up, as Robinson was absolutely prolific. He was one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL, clamping down against everyone in coverage. Robinson perhaps is a late bloomer, though he’ll turn 31 in September.

    4. Trey Burton, TE, Eagles. Age: 26.
      Signed with Bears (4 years, $32 million)

      Trey Burton is an extremely athletic tight end who could be a very potent weapon on another offense. He’s been stuck behind Zach Ertz in Philadelphia, but he proved how good he is when Ertz was concussed, catching five passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns against the Rams.

    5. Vinny Curry, DE, Eagles. Age: 30.
      Signed with Buccaneers (3 years)

      The stats don’t show it, but Vinny Curry is a very talented player. He hasn’t recorded more than 3.5 sacks since 2013, but he has provided a consistent pass rush. He’s also very effective in run support. The one downside with him is that he turns 30 in June, but he should still be able to perform on a high level for at least two more seasons. He’ll generate plenty of interest on the open market.

    6. Caleb Sturgis, K, Eagles. Age: 29.
      Signed with Chargers

      Caleb Sturgis lost his job to Josh Elliott this past season, but not because of anything Sturgis did. Sturgis was a perfect 3-of-3 prior to getting hurt, and he was 35-of-41 in 2016, including 4-of-6 from 50-plus.

    7. Donnie Jones, P, Eagles. Age: 38.
      Donnie Jones said he would retire, but has changed his mind. He has ranked sixth, 11th and 16th in net punting over the past three years. He turns 38 this summer, however.

    8. Beau Allen, NT, Eagles. Age: 26.
      Signed with Buccaneers

      Beau Allen has been a solid rotational defensive lineman for the Eagles the past few seasons as a run-stuffing specialist.

    9. LeGarrette Blount, RB, Eagles. Age: 31.
      Signed with Lions (1 year)

      LeGarrette Blount didn’t handle a full workload in 2017, especially after Jay Ajayi was acquired. However, he averaged 4.4 yards per carry while gaining 766 yards and two touchdowns. He just turned 31, so he won’t be around much longer.

    10. Corey Graham, CB, Eagles. Age: 33.
    11. Kenjon Barner, RB, Eagles. Age: 28.
    12. Jaylen Watkins (RFA), CB, Eagles. Age: 26. — Signed with Chargers
    13. Darren Sproles, RB, Eagles. Age: 35.
    14. Daryl Worley, CB, Eagles. Age: 23. — Signed with Raiders
    15. Will Beatty, OT, Eagles. Age: 33.
    16. Bryan Braman, DE, Eagles. Age: 31.
    17. Najee Goode, OLB, Eagles. Age: 29. — Signed with Colts
    18. Brent Celek, TE, Eagles. Age: 33.
    19. Dannell Ellerbe, ILB, Eagles. Age: 32.
    20. Marquess Wilson, WR, Eagles. Age: 25.

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    Top 90 | QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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